The filing period has ended for the 2014 Tulsa city elections. All races this year are for two-year terms.
City Auditor Cathy Criswell, District 5 City Councilor Karen Gilbert, and District 8 City Councilor Phil Lakin were re-elected with out opposition.
Five districts which drew three or more candidates will have a primary in June, with the possibility of a candidate winning outright with more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two will be on the November general election ballot.
Jack Ross Henderson, 63, 2014 N. Rosedale, 74127, incumbent.
Denis Palmer, 61, 707 E. Mohawk Blvd., 74106
Vanessa Hall-Harper, 42, 2020 W. Newton St., 74127
Jeannie Cue, 60, 5313 S. 32nd West Ave., 74107
Aaron L. Bisogno, 27, 7722 S. St. Louis Ave.
Lydia D'Ross, 50, 7742 S. Victor Ave., 74136
Blake Ewing, 35, 1323 S. Frisco Ave., 74119
Dan Patten, 29, 107 N. Detroit Ave., Suite 300, 74120
Julian Morgan, 28, 418 S. Peoria Ave., 74120
Elissa K. Harvill, 1722 S. Carson Ave., Apt 1806
Skip Steele, 64, 13380 E. 33rd St., 74134
Arnie Murillo, 38, 13029 E. 27th Pl., 74134
Connie Dodson, 46, 13302 E. 28th St.
Eric Turley, 44, 9215 E. 59th Pl., 74145
Anna America, 50, 6849 E. 56th St., 74145
Arianna Moore, 27, 3801 S. 93rd East Ave., 74145
Two districts which drew two candidates each will be on the November ballot only.
David Patrick, 5712 E. Tecumseh St., 74115
Virgil Lee Wallace Sr., 1564 N. New Haven Ave., 74115
G. T. Bynum, 3607 S. Florence Ave., 74105
Paul Tay, 4004 S. Toledo Ave., 74135
Today is the final day of the filing period for the 2014 City of Tulsa elections. For the first time since 2011, all nine council seats are on the ballot at the same time, along with the City Auditor's seat.
You may find this news puzzling. Yes, there was a filing period last week. That was for state and county offices. No, I don't know why Tulsa had to be different. The language adopted by Tulsa (second Monday in April) will sometimes result in a filing period the same week as the state filing period (overlapping on Wednesday) and sometimes result in a filing period the following week.
This election marks the end of over five years of thrashing about with terms and election dates. In 2008, Tulsans voted to approve a charter change to move elections from the spring of even-numbered years to the fall of odd-numbered years. This was a wise move. It allowed campaigning candidates to take advantage of warmer weather and longer days, and put the elections at a normal time of year for voting, while maintaining separation from national and state elections, so that voters could focus on local issues.
A couple of years later, Tulsans voted to change the council terms of office to a three-year term, staggered so that no more than three seats would expire in any given year. 2011 was to be the last all-council election. Seats 1, 4, and 7 were up in 2012, seats 2, 5, and 8 in 2013, and seats 3, 6, and 9 in 2014. There were conflicts with state-authorized election dates in the even-numbered years.
In 2011, the same year that staggered terms were set to begin,
Tulsans for Badder Government Same Old Tulsans Save Our Tulsa successfully pushed initiatives to move the council back to a two-year term and to move city elections to the even-numbered years, and to make council elections non-partisan. (Their at-large councilor proposition failed.) The three-year terms for the councilors elected in 2012 and 2013 and the city auditor elected in 2013 were truncated so that all seats would be up for election in 2014. The Mayor's office will next be on the ballot in 2016, along with the auditor and all nine councilors -- barring another charter change.
I opposed the Save Our Tulsa charter changes for a number of reasons, including the sense that non-partisan city elections sharing a lengthy federal and state ballot would be ignored by voters, volunteers, media, and candidates. The dearth of filers for this fall's election seems to bear out my predictions.
As of the end of the second day of filing, there are only three contested seats. It looks like three councilors who have shown a degree of independence from the city establishment are being targeted for defeat: Jack Henderson in District 1, Blake Ewing in District 4, and Arianna Moore in District 7.
Two of the challengers are the campaign managers from last year's mayoral race: Danny Patten, Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign manager, is challenging Ewing, and Anna America, Kathy Taylor's campaign manager and a former Tulsa School Board member, is challenging Moore. It may well be that these two folks made independent decisions to run, but I suspect both will have substantial establishment backing.
The other six councilors and the new city auditor are as yet unchallenged, but all have filed for re-election. They are:
City Auditor Cathy Criswell: In 2013, she defeated incumbent Clift Richards.
District 2 Councilor Jeannie Cue
District 3 Councilor David Patrick
District 5 Councilor Karen Gilbert
District 6 Councilor Skip Steele
District 8 Councilor Phil Lakin
District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum
It would be a particular shame if David Patrick draws a bye in the first election following the death of former District 3 Councilor Roscoe Turner. Turner and Patrick faced each other in every election since 1996 (except the 1998 special, when Patrick's sister took his place), either in the Democratic primary or, when Patrick changed his registration to independent, in the general election.
District 3 includes most of the area north and east of I-244 and US 75, plus the area north of 11th Street between Sheridan Road and I-44.
We need a council full of Roscoe Turners (and a mayor of that caliber as well) if we want city boards and commissions to be responsive to the concerns of citizens in all of Tulsa. That process starts today, by making sure that each of our city elected officials are held accountable to the voters in a competitive election campaign.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Filing for City of Tulsa offices is at the Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave., in the former "Mission style" Safeway supermarket with the arched roof. You'll need a notarized declaration of candidacy and a $50 cashier's check.
Here is a current map of City of Tulsa council district and precinct boundaries.
Dr. Jeffrey Myers, a great-grandson of W. Tate Brady, posted a comment today on a BatesLine entry from July 2013 ("The Brady name game") regarding the renaming of Brady Street in Tulsa. Controversy over the early Tulsa civic leader's connection to racist organizations resulted in a bizarre City Council compromise that renamed Brady Street within the Inner Dispersal Loop to Matthew B. Brady Street, honoring the Civil War-era photographer who had no connection to Tulsa.
Below is Dr. Myers's comment, which is unedited, except for the addition of an authorship line to ensure it is properly attributed.
What´s in a Name: The Legacy of Tate Brady [by Dr. Jeffrey Myers]
As one of the great-grandchildren of W. Tate Brady, I was deeply saddened to learn of his affiliation - direct or indirect - with racist organizations. Although he died long before I was born, we great-grandchildren often heard of his deep affection for "Tulsey Town" and his coining of the term "Tulsa Spirit".
Personally, I have never thought of "Brady" Street simply as a personal tribute to one of Tulsa´s founders, but rather a reminder of one of the most eventful and "spirited" chapters in the history of the city - with all of its triumphs and tragedies, virtues and vices, successes and failures. To preserve a name - including both the achievements and the shortcomings it represents - serves to convey historical identity.
In some ways, Tate Brady can be said to have been a child of his times. He was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in a young city painfully divided along racial lines. He was a man filled with larger-than-life dreams, as well as inconsistencies. Having joined the Ku Klux Klan as a young man, he later renounced the group, going on to support an anti-Klan gubernatorial candidate for election.
If I am not mistaken, though, he is being judged for one substantiated act of cruelty which, despicable as it is, remains one single act. I am not aware of any evidence of his complicity in other crimes, nor is there convincing evidence linking him to an active role in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Fortunately, times have changed; needless to say, actions must always be understood and judged in the context of those times. Historical revisionism is sometimes tempting, but often self-serving.
It has been said that Wyatt Tate Brady was known for hiring African Americans to work in his hotel and other businesses. Not long before she died at the age of 104, Mabel B. Little, a survivor of the Tulsa Race Riot who was once employed by Brady, recalls in her book, Fire on Mount Zion: My Life and History as a Black Woman in America (1990): "Another man, Mr. Tate Brady had good feelings for black people. He hired several black boys as porters. But he told them up front, "Listen, boys: I'm gonna train you so you can get your own businesses someday."
I´ve always liked the fact that this historical street north of Main only bore a surname - and not a first name, thus pointing beyond itself, not only to the larger Brady family - many of whom loved and gave generously of themselves and their gifts to Tulsa, but also to the wider family, named and unnamed, of pioneer-spirited Tulsans. The name Brady invokes that which is unique to Tulsa - not only at its best, but also that which needs to be transformed and redeemed, individually and together.
In a moment of larger vision, W. Tate Brady was once quoted as saying: "Indian and white man, Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Protestant, we worked together side by side, and shoulder to shoulder, and under these conditions, the 'Tulsa Spirit' was born, and has lived, and God grant that it never dies." Though framed in words from another era, this vision would seem to capture the magnanimous, unifying "spirit" of Tulsa - the direction surely intended by the street sign bearing the name "Brady".
I've been told that Leon Russell's voice is being used to greet travelers at the Tulsa International Airport, and that, in his greeting, he mentions seeing world-renowned violinist Jascha Heifetz at the Tulsa Municipal Theater, now known as the Brady Theater.
Heifetz appeared in Tulsa, at what was then known as the Convention Hall, many years earlier, on March 16, 1922, as part of a blockbuster concert series that included ballerina Anna Pavlova and pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The performers for the rest of the series are not well-remembered today, but they were famous at the time: Frances Alda (operatic soprano), Royal Dadmun (baritone), John McCormack (Irish tenor), Flonzaley Quartet (string quartet).
At the time, $10 got you season tickets for the best seat in the house. In inflation-adjusted terms, that's $15 per show. Individual tickets ran from $1 to $3, plus 10% war tax.
A newspaper advertisement for the series appeared on page 12 of the September 25, 1921, edition of the Tulsa Daily World:
Don't know for sure, but I suspect that the Carson Concert Series was the forerunner for Carson Attractions, which handled tickets and booking for the Tulsa Assembly Center for many years.
1922 was not Heifetz's first visit to Tulsa. He also appeared at the Convention Hall on March 4, 1919. Ticket prices were 50 cents cheaper than they would be in 1922.
A remarkable and detailed 1921 map of Tulsa is available for viewing online, from the Special Collections of the University of Tulsa McFarlin Library. The inset map shows the entire city, and is captioned;
A Ready Reference and Guide Map to Tulsa's
OFFICE & PUBLIC BLDGS. CLUBS, R.R. PASSENGER &
FREIGHT DEPOTS, SCHOOLS, CHURCHES, PARKS &
CEMETERIES, PAVED & UNPAVED STREETS & NAMES,
STEAM, INTERURBAN & STREET RAILROADS,
FIRE PLUGS, CITY & FIRE LIMITS
Subdivisions are clearly labeled. Around the edges of the map are alphabetical listings of the categories mentioned above, plus banks, streets, hospitals, apartment buildings, and hotels. The street car and interurban lines are very easy to spot.
The outer part of the map depicts "Tulsa's industrial and commercial district : showing office and public bldgs. R.R. passenger & freight depots." It is more detailed, labeling individual buildings, and it covers a solid rectangle from Denver to Hartford, Easton to 5th St., plus extensions in to the west (to Frisco between Easton & 2nd), to the east (to 3rd & Madison and Admiral & Owasso), and to the south (to 12th and Main). Beyond these areas are residences and farmland.
Two publishers are listed on the map, the Dean-Brumfield Co. of Tulsa and the Standard Map Co. of Chicago.
Also in the collection is the Fowler & Kelly Aero View of Tulsa, 1918
The only disappointment about these two maps is that they appear to have been converted to JPEG format, which is great for photos of real life, but produces annoying blurs and other artifacts as a result of its lossy compression algorithm. PNG, a lossless compressed format, would have been a better choice.
UPDATE: Paul Uttinger provides a link to a better copy of the Aero View of Tulsa, 1918.
On April Fools' Day, next Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Tulsa County voters have a special election to raise taxes to pay for an addition to the Tulsa County Jail and a brand new juvenile justice facility. I will be voting no on both questions.
Ronda Vuillemont-Smith of the Tulsa 9/12 Project has run the numbers and says we could meet the claimed needs from expected Vision 2025 surplus funds.
Tax-increase supporters are saying we can't commit the Vision 2025 surplus until the final penny is collected, but that's not so. There's a clear precedent: On July 18, 2006, the Tulsa County Vision Authority met to authorize the allocation of $45.5 million of the projected Vision 2025 surplus to fund completion of the over-budget, starchitect-designed BOK Center arena. That was a full 10 years before the tax expires. Now the expiration date is only 2.75 years away; surely the county financial wizards know exactly how much principal and interest we owe on bonds, what's held in reserve, what's committed on any remaining projects. The only unknown is exactly how much more tax we're likely to take in on sales between now and December 31, 2016 (with the final payment from Oklahoma Tax Commission in February 2017), and we can make a pretty good estimate of that for such a short term.
Tax-increase supporters are saying we can't use the Vision 2025 surplus for anything except economic development projects. But surely the creative minds that crammed an arena, school books, a health clinic, and college buildings under the "economic development" ballot heading (Prop. 3) in 2003 can find an economic development rationale for a juvenile justice facility. And Prop. 4 of Vision 2025 was "capital improvements for community enrichment" -- surely a jail pod and juvenile justice facility would qualify. And if there were any doubt about whether they'd qualify, a public vote to abolish and re-enact those taxes for these new purposes would take care of the legalities.
Tax-increase supporters are saying that we promised the suburbs $45.5 million of the surplus for "fun money" because Tulsa got $45.5 million extra for the arena. But in 2007, during the debate over the River Tax, officials denied that any such commitment was made:
Miller claims that we can't predict if there would be enough surplus, and if there is any, it's already been promised to the suburbs for unspecified projects.
But I'm told that no such projects have been approved by the Tulsa County Vision Authority and no such commitment was made. Mayor Taylor denies that any such promise was made.
The Tulsa County Vision Authority is the only body authorized to repurpose Vision 2025 funds, so where are the meeting minutes where these reallocations to suburban projects were made?
Is there enough money left? Page 48 of the February 2014 Vision 2025 report (Funding Report as of 3/4/2014, p. 4 of 4) says that the current funding for all projects totals $573,458,804.20. Page 43 of the report has the total tax receipts as of February 9, 2014, at $547,256,173.29. At the current rate of collection of about $5 million per month, we will reach full funding in about five months. From that point forward, everything else the tax collects should be gravy, unless some important facts have been left out of the report. That means, using the county's very modest growth estimate, $157,068,231.53 remaining and uncommitted. That's enough to fund the suburbs' special projects and the jail and juvenile justice facility.
In 2005, Tulsa County officials said if "4 to Fix the County II" passed, they'd fix the juvenile justice center for about $2.5 million. In 2012, they asked for $38 million as part of Vision2 to build a new juvenile justice center. Now they want $45 million, plus who knows how much interest to finance that amount over 15 years. Should we trust them? What is the basis of estimate? Are there less expensive alternative locations?
Sometimes it seems that we have exactly one county elected official that puts our interests above the empire-building impulses of some county officials. County commissioners who were looking out for our best interests would first give us the choice to repurpose expected surplus funds and use a tax hike as a fall back, not the other way around.
Two arguments in favor of these tax propositions puzzle me, One is the sheriff's argument that the jail has effectively become a mental health treatment facility for many inmates, so we need a special pod for people with mental illness. Maybe we just need to work with social service organizations to keep such people supervised and appropriately medicated.
The other puzzler is the complaint that, in the current juvenile facility, juvenile offenders and juvenile victims are waiting in the same waiting rooms, Why would you send juvenile victims of crime or juveniles in family transition to the same facility of juveniles that are accused of committing a crime?
Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) calls shenanigans on dumping more money in the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) money pit:
Several days ago the State Senate approved Senate Bill 1651 in another attempt to use taxpayer funds to complete the construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. The bill, if approved by the House and Governor, would spend another 40 million taxpayer dollars on the project.
The cultural center has already been provided with three allocations of $33M, $25M and $5M. The appropriations were funded with debt part of which still haunts the state budget and will continue to do so for many years....
Murphey went on to summarize a performance audit of the Native American Cultural and Education Authority by State Auditor Gary Jones that found "a number of inconsistencies and deficiencies that can be attributed to improper planning," a failure to implement best budgeting practices, and exploration of alternative plans and less expensive options. He writes, "It's hard to believe that Oklahoma lawmakers are so gullible as to suggest that the fourth time's the charm and this money will not also be wasted, contrary to all previous evidence." He reports that he has received more unprompted email from his constituents on this topic than any other, almost all opposed to putting more money into this failed project.
Oklahoma's tribal heritage is certainly worthy of celebration and promotion, and we have many museums, cultural centers, and historical sites, some run by the tribes, some under our state parks department or the state historical society, some under independent non-profits. Tulsa, in particular, ought to pursue tourists with an interest in American Indian history and culture, selling our city as the logical home base for day trips to Tahlequah, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Pawhuska, and elsewhere, not to mention our own sites of significance, like the Gilcrease Museum, Creek Council Oak, and Perryman Cemetery.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, is in the Unassigned Lands, opened for settlement by land run 125 years ago next month. It's located in one of the few parts of the state (along with the Cherokee Outlet, No Man's Land, and Old Greer County) that isn't considered Indian Country under Federal Law.
It seems to me that placing a catch-all Indian museum in Oklahoma City is all about Oklahoma City cashing in on tribal tourism at the expense of the rest of the state, drawing tourists away from historic sites and tribal cultural museums in other parts of the state. If anyone should pay for the AICCM, it should be Oklahoma City taxpayers and philanthropists.
Rather than dump another $40 million into a new facility, Oklahoma's focus ought to be on better promotion of the sites that already exist. We should want to entice visitors to venture off of the interstates to our smaller cities and towns, rather than provide them an easy-on, easy-off, fast-food drive-thru version of our state's rich Indian history. The state could fund longer hours at our welcome centers and add small exhibits and brochures to help people find Indian heritage sites. The tourism department could provide an online guide and a mobile app for planning a visit to Indian sites and events.
State funding is for building up the whole state, not for fattening an imperial capital at the expense of the provinces.
Don't miss Murphey's insight into the preeminent force behind this kind of spending:
It is never good when a government entity is suddenly empowered with a rapid cash infusion and the spending of millions of dollars of other peoples' money. The officials who oversee that entity all too often give in to the temptation to build an empire and spend the money of future generations at the suggestion of the massive army of vendors who benefit from the excessive spend.
From the NACEA audit:
The Board self-imposed certain challenges; the Legislature requested neither a world-class facility nor one that would draw hundreds of thousands of both international and domestic tourists to the southern side of Bricktown in Oklahoma City. The Board chose "the Vision Plan," the most elaborate and expensive of the options provided by the project architects in 2004. Projects on such a grand scale require substantial funding, however, and at no time has the Board's available funding closely approached its projected expenditures. It is reasonable to expect that funding shortfalls might lead to a reevaluation of the plans by the Board; if an everyday citizen loses his or her job, he or she might eliminate cable service, a gym membership, or weekly pizza night. The Board has taken the opposite approach, and rather than evaluating less costly options that would still allow construction of a world-class facility, has maintained their vision, with an expectation that taxpayers will foot the bill.
The audit's recommendations and six options for moving forward are worth reading.
I. Marc Carlson, Librarian of Special Collections at the University of Tulsa, has several personal webpages containing his research on the Tulsa Race Riot and other historical topics. I just found out about this material earlier this evening and wanted to preserve the links for future exploration:
Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 by I. Marc Carlson: WordPress site, principal location for collected documents and analysis.
Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 original website: Hand-coded website that still has some important material.
Public-domain photos of the Tulsa Race Riot, with descriptions and commentary
Carlson takes a "just the facts" approach to the material, placing the greatest weight on first-hand accounts recorded close to the time of the events and documents of the time, separating evidence from widely-circulated legends. You can read his statement of methodology here. Among his projects are a timeline of the Tulsa Race Riot and a list of the Tulsa Race Riot known dead and wounded, with the source of the information and, if known, the address for the victim as found in contemporary directories.
On Monday, March 24, 2014, the Oklahoma State Senate's Education Committee unanimously passed a committee substitute for HB 3399, a bill initiated in the State House to repeal Oklahoma's adoption of Common Core national standards. (Click the link for the text of the bill, which shows deletions from current law as strikethrough text and additions as underlined text.)
The Senate committee substitute:
- requires Oklahoma to develop its own state subject matter standards and assessments;
- removes explicit references to the Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) Curriculum, replacing them with references to state-adopted subject-matter standards;
- removes requirements to adhere to K-12 Common Core State Standards, referring instead to "college- and career-ready" standards to be developed in consultation with the State Regents for Higher Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education;
- gives the Legislature the final say on any standards adopted by the State Board of Education (the Legislature may, by concurrent resolution, amend or return with instructions);
- forbids the State Board of Education from "enter[ing] into any agreement, memorandum of understanding or contract with any federal agency or private entity which in any way cedes or limits state discretion or control over the process of development, adoption or
- revision of subject matter standards and corresponding student assessments in the public school system, including, but not limited to, agreements, memoranda of understanding and contracts in exchange for funding for public schools and programs";
- gives school districts the exclusive right to determine "the instructional materials, curriculum, reading lists and textbooks to be used in meeting the subject matter standards" and the discretion to "adopt additional supplementary student assessments";
- bans standards and assessment questions that are "emotive in nature";
- requires instructional material to be available for inspection by the parents or guardians of students.
"Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) Curriculum" is the name for Oklahoma's implementation of Common Core standards, as shown by this Oklahoma Common Core adoption timeline on the State Department of Education website.
Restore Oklahoma Public Education ROPE), the bipartisan grassroots group working to repeal Common Core, supports the Senate substitute as a step in the right direction. There were initial indications that the Senate leadership would not allow an anti-Common Core bill to proceed, despite the overwhelming and bipartisan support in the House. Some Common Core opponents are therefore skeptical of any bill that could win the support of the Senate and Governor, but Jenni White, ROPE president, says that it's the first step in a long process which will require Common Core opponents to stay vigilant in this year's elections and in the State Board of Education's development of Oklahoma state subject matter standards.
A Cato analysis of Oklahoma educational spending and achievement shows that per-pupil spending has nearly doubled in inflation-adjusted terms since 1972, but SAT scores have grown by only 2% in that same period, in raw terms, and have actually dropped by about 2.5% when adjusted for participation and demographics. (The adjustment rationale and methodology are described here.)
And here is Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's rather underwhelming statement on Common Core Legislation from last Friday.
"Since then, I have listened to growing concerns from parents across the state concerning Common Core, the standards currently in the process of being implemented. In light of these concerns, I have worked directly with our legislators to accomplish the goals of increasing classroom rigor and accountability while guaranteeing that Oklahoma public education is protected from federal interference. My hope is that House Bill 3399, which is soon to be heard by the Senate Education Committee, will accomplish these goals. If it does so, without creating unintended consequences that would hamstring educators or invite more federal influence in education, it will have my support."
On Wednesday night, my wife and I went to Circle Cinema to see a double-feature: Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James (Locations: Looking for Rusty James") followed by Rumble Fish, the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film based on the novel by S. E. Hinton.
The first film at the Circle Cinema was about the second: Chilean author Alberto Fuguet saw Rumble Fish as a young man and was inspired by the idea that the ordinary stuff of life could be the source of art.
It is the film that incited me to write. The one that said: "You too can do it. If this story of two brothers can be art, then perhaps your world, your raw material, your square meter, can be of some use to you. Perhaps it can be representable."...
I left on foot. I lived close by. I arrived at my house that creaked. I remember that that night, in a short time, by hand, without a computer, I wrote my first story. Perhaps I should dedicate it to Dillon. To Spano. Perhaps I should have dedicated it to Coppola.
Some day, I don't know when, I should make a pilgrimage to Tulsa, I told myself.
A flop when released in the US as an ordinary summer movie, Rumble Fish became a long-running cult classic on the art-house circuit in Latin America, particularly in the Southern Cone of Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. The film was retitled La Ley de la Calle ("The Law of the Street") and presented in English with Spanish subtitles.
Asked to write an essay about a favorite film, Fuguet decided instead to create a documentary tribute. In Miami for an event, he bought a ticket to Tulsa hoping to find locations and to interview extras and local fans who would talk about what Rumble Fish meant to them. Instead, puzzled that the film seemed to mean so little to the people of the city where it was made, he went around on his own, filming locations. Instead of talking to locals, he went back to South America and interviewed authors and filmmakers who were inspired by the film. It was only later that he connected with Tulsans (in particular, Lee Roy Chapman) interested in the film who helped him gather additional footage for his documentary. Fuguet told his tale in This Land Press:
Things didn't turn out as I thought. My goal was to go to Tulsa, stay as long as necessary, talk with everyone, spend time with the extras, and succumb to a world I would have liked to be a part of. But Tulsa turned out to be not just a colorful city, where yes, the clouds pass but not too quickly. I was struck by something that left me lying flat on a bed in a Ramada Inn. Nobody talked to me. Not because they were fleeing from me or they rejected me. It's that Rumble Fish, the film anyway, was not a topic of conversation for them. It hadn't made an impact on the city. It was filmed there but in an informal way, not in the way its big sister, the immense and technicolored The Outsiders, was shot. It was very difficult for me to make a map of locations. There were no fans, no groupies, no cinephiles. I returned to Santiago with a lot of footage and an immense depression. I didn't have a documentary.
Fuguet's homage, Locaciones, is a collection of recent footage of Tulsa interspersed with clips from Rumble Fish shown on various screens, accompanied by the voices of the movie's admirers talking about when and where they first saw it and how it inspired them. It is in Spanish with English subtitles.
(Confession: I've never read the novel Rumble Fish and, until Wednesday night, had never seen the film.)
To Fuguet and his fellow fans, the Tulsa depicted in Rumble Fish is a "holy city." But the film shows a forgotten Tulsa that would have been very foreign to Tulsans who shopped at Woodland Hills Mall and never ventured north of 41st or west of Yale: Under the Boulder Ave. railroad bridge, a store front at 13 E. Brady Street, in the alley south of 5th Street between Main and Boston, the Sixth Street Subway, the 1400 block of S. Cincinnati, the 1000 block of N. Greenwood, 16th Street next to Marquette School, 3rd and Kenosha, the 23rd Street bridge. This was the Tulsa that Tulsa's leaders of the time were diligently working to update or eliminate -- dilapidated, obsolete, old-fashioned. Where they had already succeeded, when Tulsa couldn't provide the requisite flophouse apartment, mom-and-pop drugstore, and dive beer joint, Coppola took his crew to Sapulpa's better-preserved downtown to make up the deficiency.
The most spectacular scene in the film (from a Tulsa history perspective) is on Greenwood at Archer. The then-recently restored buildings were decked out in neon, awnings, and running lights, and hundreds of extras paraded up and down the block in a scene that was supposed to represent a street party on the wild side of town. While I don't think Greenwood was ever as sleazy as the scene in Rumble Fish, it was as lively, particularly in the '40s and '50s, and Coppola and his set designers do an amazing job of recapturing its lost vitality.
Coppola and Hinton wrote the screenplay on days off during the filming of The Outsiders, and Coppola began shooting Rumble Fish right after the earlier film wrapped. The movie starred Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Vincent Spano, and Dennis Hopper.
Rumble Fish contains frequent instances of what James Lileks calls "accidental documentary." I found myself wanting to pause every frame, searching blurry backgrounds and plate glass reflections and my own memories for clues that might help me pinpoint the exact location. I didn't follow the story as closely I might have; I was too busy looking at what Tulsa looked like in 1982-1983. (The clock with the flipping ads from Jenks Restaurant even made a prominent appearance.)
Earlier in the evening, I saw an exhibition of photos taken during the filming of Rumble Fish by Gaylord Herron, Joe Cervantez, and Western Doughty, who as a 15-year-old photographed a scene being filmed in his neighborhood, on the south side of Latimer Street between N. Cheyenne and N. Denver Ave. Cervantez had photos of Greenwood and Archer as it was dressed for the film -- tarted up to look like a strip of bars, arcades, news stands, pool halls. He also had a remarkable photo of the buildings on the west side of Greenwood, at the beginning of the restoration process of the handful of post-Riot buildings remaining after the rest had been destroyed in the late '60s by expressway construction and urban renewal. The building facades, propped up by metal poles, were all that remained.
(I'm pretty sure the police officer in the movie was the visual inspiration for Axe Cop. And Vincent Spano totally stole my late '70s - early '80s look.)
Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James is available for streaming on the website of Cinépata.
Rumble Fish is available online at viooz.co. I have no idea whether this site is licensed to show the movie, but it's there.
If you've seen Rumble Fish and are wondering what it's all about, here are a couple of reviews that seemed especially insightful. (Warning: reviews contain spoilers.)
This Perhapses review of Rumble Fish does a good job of connecting some seemingly unconnected details in the movie.
Tulsa is not like I imagined it. It is a seedy run-down city, like the Great Falls of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. There is plenty of space for rumbles in the freight yards, under bridges and down alleyways. Drugs are rife. Yet its isolated position on the plains is made clear. The outside world is all around. Roads are thick with dust, winds whip through the streets, and the hurtling, boiling clouds are continually above, reflected in the storefront windows.
He has some notes on the locations of Benny's Billiards, the fight by the train tracks, Rusty James's apartment, the drugstore, the bridge, and the pet store.